1. the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.
  2. the resulting state or product.
  3. manner of being composed; structure: This painting has an orderly composition.
  4. makeup; constitution: His moral composition was impeccable.
  5. an aggregate material formed from two or more substances: a composition of silver and tin.
  6. a short essay written as a school exercise.
  7. the act or process of producing a literary work.
  8. an academic course for teaching the techniques of clear, expository writing.
  9. the art of putting words and sentences together in accordance with the rules of grammar and rhetoric.
  10. a piece of music.
  11. the art of composing music.
  12. Fine Arts. the organization or grouping of the different parts of a work of art so as to achieve a unified whole.
  13. Grammar. the formation of compounds or derivatives: the composition of “aircraft” from “air” and “craft.”
  14. a settlement by mutual agreement.
  15. an agreement or compromise, especially one by which a creditor or group of creditors accepts partial payment from a debtor.
  16. a sum of money so paid.
  17. Printing.
    1. the setting up of type for printing.
    2. Also called pagination.the makeup of pages for printing.
  18. Mathematics. the process of making a composite function of two given functions.


  1. the act of putting together or making up by combining parts or ingredients
  2. something formed in this manner or the resulting state or quality; a mixture
  3. the parts of which something is composed or made up; constitution
  4. a work of music, art, or literature
  5. the harmonious arrangement of the parts of a work of art in relation to each other and to the whole
  6. a piece of writing undertaken as an academic exercise in grammatically acceptable writing; an essay
  7. printing the act or technique of setting up type
  8. linguistics the formation of compound words
  9. logic the fallacy of inferring that the properties of the part are also true of the whole, as every member of the team has won a prize, so the team will win a prize
    1. a settlement by mutual consent, esp a legal agreement whereby the creditors agree to accept partial payment of a debt in full settlement
    2. the sum so agreed
  10. chem the nature and proportions of the elements comprising a chemical compound

late 14c., “action of combining,” also “manner in which a thing is composed,” from Old French composicion (13c., Modern French composition) “composition, make-up, literary work, agreement, settlement,” from Latin compositionem (nominative compositio) “a putting together, connecting, arranging,” noun of action from past participle stem of componere (see composite). Meaning “art of constructing sentences” is from 1550s; that of “literary production” (often also “writing exercise for students”) is from c.1600. Printing sense is 1832; meaning “arrangement of parts in a picture” is from 1706.

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